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Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on;
Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish, the Captain of Plymouth!”
Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer of letters,— Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful phrases,
But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a schoolboy ;
Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly.
Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla, the Puritan maiden,
Looked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with wonder,
Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and rendered her speechless;
Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence :
“If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,
Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me?
If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning !"
Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter,
“Has he no time for such things, as you call it, before he is married,
Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after the wedding?
Choosing, selecting, rejecting, comparing one with another,
Then you make known your desire, with abrupt and sudden avowal,
Does not respond at once to a love that she never suspected,
Does not attain at a bound the height to which you have been climbing.
This is not right nor just: for surely a woman's affection
Is not a thing to be asked for, and had for only the asking.
When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.
Had he but waited a while, had he only showed that he loved me,
Even this Captain of yours—who knows?-at last might have won me,
Still John Alden went on, unheeding the words of Priscilla,
Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, expanding;
Spoke of his courage and skill, and of all his battles in Flanders,